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Discussion in 'Green Iguanas' started by chuckloris, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. chuckloris

    chuckloris Active Member

    [[tldr; My vet tells me he recommends a shot of Depo-Provera for my iguana's breeding season behavior. Thoughts?]]

    Hi everyone. I haven't been on this forum in years, but stopped by back in 2011 when I first adopted my iguana. I recently moved to Florida and got a new vet.

    Some backstory on this vet... They have two green iguanas, both male, both in cages attached to the windows of the vet office, but next to each other (with a divider, but they can see each other). I don't like this, for obvious reasons. They do feed them greens, but mix pellet food in. Another point against them. When I was there, they were both sitting well-behaved, but one had scratched his nose up (not surprised.)

    I brought my iguana, a male (age is guessed to be 8 years) in for a checkup after I got back from visiting my family for the holidays. While I was gone, his timer got bumped (it is one of those timers where you push in tabs for the hours you want it on) and the pet sitter didn't notice, so it was on longer than normal. The first night I got back, he was awake the whole night (I know this because I had stomach flu and was up all night) and his light had been changed to coming on and off almost every half hour throughout the night (obviously, I changed it back to normal when I got home).

    The next day, he was chasing me around the room. He was not doing an aggressive 'crab-walk' like he does around my brother, just following me around and occasionally sort of scuttling after me. He wouldn't actively try to bite me, but sometimes will half-heartedly go after my leg, but not charging or anything outright aggressive.

    I told my vet this, and he said the photoperiod being too long caused him to be aggressive. He told me to put my iguana somewhere dark and give him 4 hours of his light per day for a week. Usually, he gets real sunlight out on our patio, but I brought him in for his fake bake about a month ago so he could get used to being inside for when the pet sitter was here. Anyway, that was on Monday, and apart from taking him out to use his poop box, he doesn't get to come out of my walk-in closet. I don't like this arrangement and he is still behaving the same.

    I got him a stuffed alligator as a 'toy' to take his sexual frustration out on. He seems scared of it, though, so I'm not sure. The vet said this was a bad idea but, like I said... I don't trust this vet.

    Anyway, the main reason for my post here is that my vet said he would give my iguana a shot of Depo-Provera if his behavior doesn't improve. He said this helps with the aggression, but I can't find anything about this online. Yet again, he also said neutering works on young male iguanas, and I'm pretty sure the consensus on that is questionable.

    In short, I don't trust my vet and am looking for opinions on this. This is the first year my iguana has behaved this way, and I am not sure what to do. I hesitate to authorize a progesterone injection like the vet recommends. What do you think? Have you ever heard of this?
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    My opinion...if your gut tells you not to trust the vet...find another vet. The suggestions he is making are things I have never heard of. And I have been doing this a long time.
    My approach would be to get everything back to where it should be and see what happens.
  3. EllenD

    EllenD New Member

    Hi, I just read your post and thought I should reply as I totally and completely agree with your vet. First off, I owned a green iguana for 10 years, got him when he was the size of my finger basically from a breeder. I was 10 years old when I got him, when I went away to college my mom kept him for a year, but when I was 20 I rehomed him. I still miss him. I have a pre-med degree and an animal science degree, and I currently own a beardie, 4 parrots, 10 breeder budgies that I do breed twice a year, hand-raise the babies, and sell them. I also have an Australian Cattle Dog and a Shar Pei.

    Now that you know my history and qualifications, let me explain what happened to your iguana, why it happened, and your vet is trying to do to reverse it a little better than your vet explained it. I will say right up front that using either Depo Provera or the other he may mention is Lupron (real no-no) is a last resort, and usually this can be remedied by exactly what your vet has suggested, which is called a "Solar Schedule". This is a very natural, holistic method of knocking an animal out of breeding season and thus hormonal rages and flare ups. The hormone killing medications are what is used if the Solar Schedule doesn't work. In my experience this method usually works within a week or two. GET RID OF THE STUFFED ANIMAL IMMEDIATELY!!! This will only counteract the Solar Schedule and is probably keeping it from working. In short, you want him to stop all sexual behavior completely to get him out of breeding season, and masterbating or mating will keep him in breeding season! Get it away from him!!!

    Basically the theory here is that an animal, bird, or reptile that is of breeding maturity is naturally triggered to go into breeding season by the changing of the length of the day. So if you're in Florida it's a bit easier than for me in PA, as my days right now are very short. Basically a longer day (longer amount of sunlight) signals them that it's time to breed, while shorter days (less sunlight) tells them to stop breeding. So the two times of the year that most wild animals, birds, and reptiles go into breeding season are when they can notice the days getting suddenly longer, usually this is late spring/early summer and then possibly late fall/early winter, though there are exceptions based on the species and their location. A tame, domestic animal in captivity still has their natural instincts inborn in them, and these light changes trigger hormone changes, and the hormone changes trigger wanting to breed all the time, which triggers aggressive behaviour. So putting the hormonal animal on a strict solar schedule, though seemingly cruel or frustrating since they have very short days, will definitely end his breeding mode. You've probably never had this issue with him before because he's never been exposed to an artificial light schedule like this before. The constant "daylight" he was dealing with combined with a lack of sleep turned his hormones on full blast. You need to help him turn them off.

    Here's how I suggest doing a solar schedule with any creature in active, aggressive breeding mode, and I find this to be the easiest, quickest way to end it. Keep in mind that any deviation in light schedule can start it all over and negate what you've already done, and any opportunity he has to mate or masterbating with another iguana or "artificial iguana", like the stuffed animal, will just keep it going longer and longer. Animals don't think like people do, when they are sexually frustrated with hormones raging, if they actually mate or masterbate this doesn't relieve their frustration, it tells them to keep it going! That's why you need to get the stuffed alligator away from him, and never let him try to use your leg or arm, or a piece of furniture, etc. If you ever see him trying to masterbate with anything or anyone you need to immediately stop him and put him in the dark...

    Ok, so basically 12-14 hours a day of dark, quiet sleep is what he needs to snap out of this. One important factor is where does he sleep, where is his cage? The way I do it is I put their cage or sleeping cage if it's separate near a window. They need to be able to see the sunrise and sunset. Now think about the time the sun starts to rise where you're at. If it starts coming up at 6:00 a.m. then he needs to be woken up at 6:00 a.m. and he needs to be able to see the sunrise through the window. So put his cage near a window and leave the blinds or curtains on that window open. This may require putting his cage in a different room, like a spare bedroom, and here's why: so he gets up as soon as the sun starts to rise, he watches the sunrise (leave the lights in the room and his cage off until the sun fully rises and he sees this through the window. Then turn his cage lights and the room lights on. Then he starts his day normally. Nothing else during his day needs to change except no sexual behavior allowed, and a small diet tweak I'll mention later. Now think about the time the sun starts to set in your area. If the sun starts to set where you're at around 6:30, then he needs to be put back inside his enclosure at 6:30. At this point his day is ending, so I typically put their last meal of the day in their cage prior to the start of the sunset. So if the sunset starts at 6:30 I would put him in his cage between 5:30-6:00 and feed him his last meal then. Leave the room lights and his cage lights on just until the sun starts to set. As soon as the sun starts to set, turn off his cage lights and the room lights, and let him see the light change through the window. Now here's why his enclosure may need to be put in a different room like a spare bedroom, because as soon as the sun starts to set and you turn off his cage lights and the room lights, he's starting to go to sleep. He needs quiet and dark from this point on. I put my parrot's sleeping cage in a spare bedroom, put the cage right next to the window, and I can shut the door that way. So the sun is starting to set in PA right now around 4:30 p.m. (i hate winter), so i take my parrot upstairs at 4:00, put him in the cage and feed him his dinner with the lights on in the room. He eats, then as soon as the sun starts to set around 4:30 I turn all the room lights off, and let him watch the sunset through the window with the door shut. I'll go downstairs and make dinner or whatever, and as soon as I notice that the sun is just about completely down and it's almost completely dark outside I'll go back upstairs and tell him goodnight. I shut the door again and that's it for the rest of the night. I do not cover him at all, this very important because he needs to see the sunrise the next morning. Now I don't generally get up in the morning at sunrise, but that's OK because he's next to the window, the blinds are open, and he's not covered. So regardless of what I'm doing he will see the natural sunrise. When I do get up I open the door to the room and he's typically eating or playing. Then he eats breakfast and his day is completely normal until the sun starts to set again at 4:30. You get the idea, just adjust the times to your current sunrise and sunset. The mornings and sunrise are easy because I do nothing different, he's in a quiet room with the lights out and the door shut, he's slept a good 14 hours here, and he's next to the window with the blinds open, so he gets to be woken up by the natural sunrise without me doing a thing. The only change for us really is making sure I put him in his enclosure about a half an hour before the time I know the sun will first start to set with the room/cage lights on so he can eat, and then making sure that I turn all the lights off and shut the door as soon as I notice the sun is starting to set. Then I shut the door and I'm done, so is he...

    Realize that this will knock him right out of breeding season in a week or two if you stick to the schedule strictly. And in your situation I think it will be a lot easier to handle from that point on, because your iguana never had this issue prior, it was that sudden extra amount of light making his day longer that triggered him to go into breeding season. So as long as that doesn't happen again you shouldn't have to do this again any time soon, just go back to your normal daily routine. Birds are much more difficult than reptiles because they go into breeding season twice a year no matter what, so they have to be kept on a solar schedule all year round to lessen the hormonal rages and to snap them out of it as quickly as possible, otherwise it lasts a good month or more twice a year with them...AND THEY CAN FLY AND DIVE BOMB YOU, ATTACK YOU WITH THAT HUGE PARROT BEAK, AND THEN FLY AWAY! It's awful...

    The other factor that can help knock him out quicker is temporarily tweaking his diet, though since iguanas are vegetarians this usually only helps minimally. I don't know what you feed your iguana, but lowering the protein intake of a reptile, bird, animal, etc. in breeding season at the same time you start them on the solar schedule can speed up the process even more. So if you feed your iguana any type of pellets, treats, or food other than salad that contains protein I would stop it completely until he comes out of it and feed him only greens until that happens. Protein influences hormone production...

    That's pretty much it. It works and it's natural. This is exactly how their breeding seasons are decided in the wild, we're just speeding the process up big time to end his aggressive behavior quickly. Your vet has the correct idea, though I will say this, I WOULD NOT DO THE CLOSET THING OR TRY TO CREATE A SOLAR SCHEDULE FOR HIM USING ARTIFICIAL LIGHTS AS YOU ARE, BECAUSE IVE NEVER SEEN IT WORK, NOT ONCE. THE BREEDING SEASON ALWAYS LASTS THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME IT WOULD ANYWAY, IF NOT LONGER USING AN ARTIFICIAL SOLAR SCHEDULE. He needs to see the real sunrises and sunsets. I'm talking the difference between this problem ending for you in a week versus it continuing for a month or more. Artificial lighting changes are what typically cause this to happen suddenly, and it doesn't fix it...That's why I tried to emphasize putting his enclosure right next to a window with the blinds/curtains constantly open, and in a quiet room that has a door that can shut, and where he won't hear you moving around, the TV, etc. He needs 12-14 hours of dark, quiet sleep directly AFTER watching the natural sunset. I promise it will work, and you'll most likely see a change for the good after one day.

    Depo Provera is used as a form of birth control in women, it's a shot that lasts for 3 months, and it is basically a form of progesterone, the natural female sex hormone along with estrogen. The reason they give it to males to stop sexual behavior and aggression resulting from it is because when you inject progesterone into a male (men have small amounts of estrogen and progesterone naturally in their systems, just as women have a small amount of testosterone) the rise in progesterone counteracts the effect of testosterone, thereby killing the male's sex drive. Depo Provera does not stop the production of anything, it just inhibits the effect of testosterone. I call it "The Devil's Drug" because a day after I was given the 3 month shot I felt horrible. I had cervical cancer and endometriosis and they tried to control my hormone production with Depo (and wanted to use Lupron next) before doing a total hysterectomy and removing both of my ovaries and everything else. I was only 32 and had no kids, so it was a last ditch effort. It was horrible stuff, and the problem is if you react badly to it and it makes you sick, you can't reverse it, it's with you and active for 3 months. The day after I got the shot I started having mood swings, I couldn't sleep at all, I had constant cotton mouth, and about a week after the shot the pain started. Body pain is a very common side effect of Depo, and the only way I can describe the pain I had was that my spine hurt. That's exactly what happened, my spine, like the bones hurt. Not the muscles around the bones, the actual bones that make up my spine, from my neck down to my butt hurt so badly I could not walk, sit, stand, lay down, or live without the worst bone pain in my spine I've ever felt. And it was constant, 24 hours a day, and I couldn't stop it, I had to deal with it for 3 months until the Depo Provera wore off. After talking to many other women that have used it either for regular birth control or to control heavy periods, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, etc., every one of them agreed that they would never ever use it again. So I would not suggest giving it to your iguana, as I have no idea how a male reptile would respond to it...They use it in human men as a way to chemically castrate pedophiles and sex addicts, and men have just the same horribly painful side effects.

    Lupron is the other drug your vet may suggest, and again I wouldn't suggest it for your iguana. Lupron is essentially complete chemical castration. It stops the production of any and all primary sex hormones in anyone and everyone. It can be given in a 1 month shot, a 3 month shot, a 6 month shot, or a 12 month shot. It will completely stop all production of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone in both males and females. It's also used as chemical castration for male human pedophiles and sex offenders, and they typically use this instead of Depo Provera because Depo Provera doesn't stop the production of testosterone, so men will have no sex drive while on it, but they will not lose their male characteristics like facial hair, larger muscles, deep voice, etc. Lupron would eliminate all primary sex characteristics. Once again I don't suggest this for your iguana...

    Your iguana was put into breeding season because of a glitch with his artificial lighting schedule, and apparently you've never seen him go into this before this occurance in the many years that you've had him. So I don't think a chemical sex hormone inhibitor is necessary at all, especially when this is a freak event and once he is knocked out of breeding season he likely won't go back into again unless the same lighting mix up happens again. If he was a constantly hormonal iguana that was always aggressive towards people when in breeding season, and if he went into breeding season constantly causing this behavior, then I would absolutely suggest the Depo Provera shot, they do the same in birds often and it's a god send. Imagine a huge adult Macaw with a beak that can snap a broomstick in half constantly trying to masterbate on your shoulder, and when you won't let him he attacks and bites you, biting off fingers, going for your eyes, causing massive avulsions...Yeah, Depo is necessary! Birds go into breeding season twice a year regardless of what you do, unlike reptiles, so it's a much larger problem. But just like your iguana, if the bird is put on a strict solar schedule they're fine...
  4. Pkimble93

    Pkimble93 New Member

    Hi I'm new to the forum but I noticed the title of this thread and had to comment. Although I've never had any experience with depo-provera with reptiles and I know reptiles and people are very different. Depo-provera is a birth control shot used for women. I've received it and it caused me many health problems. I can't give you advice as to give it to your iguana. I do urge you to do lots of research and possibly getting a second opinion before making the decision to do so

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